Relationships begin with communication. Talking to each other—on a date, in the car, while spending time together—is how a couple falls in love. Communication is how two people begin to understand each others’ heart.
The early days of a romance are filled with talking.
But in some marriages, that commitment to communication begins to fade over time. As couples get comfortable with each other, they stop talking.
That’s dangerous, because communication is vital in a healthy relationship between a husband and wife.
However, men and women have different needs. When we communicate with each other, we have to encrypt our language to acknowledges those needs. We have to say things the right way.
One of a woman’s biggest needs is for security. She wants to know that her husband is tuned in and will sacrifice to meet her needs. Nothing is more important than the knowledge that he will make her—and the family—his priority.
When men communicate with women, their words need to convey security. This is true regardless of the subject or context of the conversation.
In my relationship with Karen, the subtext she’s looking for is the fact that I care. I care about how she feels. I’m tuned in to her needs. I’m paying attention to what’s happening in our family and I’m willing to say “no” to anything that gets in the way of that. She’s listening for that attitude in my words and in my tone.
But if she hears something that conveys the opposite of caring, she goes on high alert. She might hear this: I’m disconnected from our family. Something else is more important than you. I’ve checked out.
It doesn’t matter what I’m trying to say. If I create a feeling of insecurity, it jams my intent. If I give Karen the idea that I’m disconnected from her, my words won’t be successful.
Men have a different focus. One of the biggest needs for a man is respect and honor. He wants to know that his wife believes in him.
When women communicate with men, their words need to convey respect and admiration. I believe in you. I love you. You’re the best. I respect you.
In our marriage, Karen can talk to me about the kids, about work, about spirituality, about hurts and fears. The topic doesn’t matter as long her attitude is acknowledging my need.
If a wife comes at her husband with an approach that makes him feel disrespected, he simply won’t be able to hear her. She can say anything, of course—men and women are equals in a healthy marriage—but her tone and words need to communicate admiration in order to land successfully.
Disrespect makes it hard for men to listen. Insecurity makes it hard for women to listen.
Successful communication within marriage means understanding that your spouse isn’t like you. They don’t need what you need. They don’t hear like you hear.
So when a husband speaks to his wife, he needs to talk security and his communication will find success. And when a wife speaks to her husband, she needs to speak the language of respect.
When you speak toward these needs, God uses your communication to strengthen your marriage, improve intimacy, and draw you closer than before.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today